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Proposal to increase borough's new homes

This month, the government published new proposals for determining the number of additional homes that local authority areas like Epsom and Ewell will be required to deliver.

Within Epsom & Ewell this would mean 604 new homes per year plus the necessary infrastructure, schools, etc. 

Image: Building new homesHousehold projection data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) helps determine the housing target that the government sets for each local authority area. These figures will be used by the council as part of the Local Plan which sets planning policy and the amount of housing and associated infrastructure development in the area.

The latest projections (2018) published by ONS showed a significant reduction in the projected growth in household numbers in the borough. Using the government’s existing method of calculation,  this would have resulted in a significant reduction in the borough’s housing target – from 579 homes per year, to just 215 homes per annum.

Councillor David Reeve, Chair of the Licensing and Planning Policy Committee said “Our residents expect the Local Plan for the local area to be evidence based and for the housing target to be reflective of local needs. We wrote to the government last month to ask them to adopt the latest ONS projections and accept that, based on the evidence, Epsom and Ewell should only require the much lower target of 215 new homes a year.”

This month the government announced proposals to fundamentally change the way they calculate the housing target for each local authority area. Their proposed changes would lead to an even higher government imposed target for Epsom and Ewell of 604 new homes per year.  

Councillor David Reeve added “We are really concerned that these latest government proposals to change the method of calculating the housing target would, if approved, lead to an even larger requirement for new homes in the borough, when the evidence using the current method of calculation together with the latest ONS data provides for a much lower housing target.” 

The council will be preparing its response to the government on its proposed changes to the way that housing targets are calculated.

Changes to the planning system

The Government has published a white paper and launched a consultation on a fundamental reform of the national planning system. A white paper is a policy document produced by the Government that sets out its proposals for future legislation.

The Government’s stated aim is to streamline and modernise the planning process. They propose to bring a new focus to design and sustainability, improve the system of developer contributions to infrastructure, and ensure more land is available for development where it is Image: Planningneeded.

Under the plans, much more planning policy will be set nationally. In addition, local authorities are required to designate land in their area as one of three categories; for growth, for renewal or for protection. Local authorities’ local plans will be required to identify areas as being one of the three designations.

Councillor David Reeve, Chair of the Licensing and Planning Policy Committee said “I welcome any opportunities to further improve and simplify the planning system and I am therefore looking very closely as these latest Government proposals as we prepare the Council’s formal response.  However I would be concerned if the proposals sought to further transfer local planning powers and the determination of local planning policy away from local authorities to central Government.  It would also be a concern if the proposals gave too much freedom to developers and removed the ability for local people to be part of the process for determining what constitutes appropriate development in their areas. 

“Planning applications that affect the local area always understandably generate a high level of residents’ interest. That is why Planning decisions have relied on public engagement in shaping any proposed development to be the best possible outcome for the local area.

“The launch of the borough’s new local plan had reached a key stage, when we had to suspend the planned consultation because of the COVID-19 crisis.  However, we have been keen to move things forward following the lock-down, and a new timetable for the Local Plan has recently been agreed by the Council’s Licencing and Planning Policy Committee.  However, given the Government’s announcement and the scale of change that their proposals envisage, we have no choice but to now seek clarification from the Government about what they expect councils like us, in the process of the local plan formation, to do in relation to their local plan preparations".

Putting residents first

The leaders of Surrey’s 11 district and borough councils have launched their ‘Putting Residents First’ campaign to transform local government in the county and bring decision making and services close to communities.

Work has started on proposals for a modern approach to local government, to be shared with central Government as part of the debate on its anticipated ‘Recovery and Devolution’ white paper due to be published this autumn. The white paper signals its desire to reform local government – an opportunity Surrey’s district and borough councils are eager and enthusiastic to embrace.

Surrey’s Leaders are agreed that the proposals will centre around simplifying and improving local government. All viable options are on the table including the retention of a modified two-tier system as well as multi-unitary solutions. Providing residents with easier and local access to all their council services, enabled by digital transformation, will be a key element of the work. As will be ensuring that the future approach ensures the democratic accountability between councillor and resident remains strong.

The proposals are to be shaped and informed by new thinking, data, insight, research and engagement with residents.

The focus will be on creating local government offering the best results for residents – one which:

    • Remains close to local communities
    • Takes a ’place-based’ approach, where services, support, infrastructures, highways and development are influenced by local need rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach – all under the scrutiny of accountable, local elected representatives
    • Provides value for money
    • Is efficient and effective
    • Makes it easy for different public and private services including councils, health, police, businesses and others to work together
    • Continues to provide and improve the support and services residents need
    • Reflects the geographical and population differences of the county.

Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of the Strategy and Resources Committee at Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, said: “We continue to believe that closer to, not further from, our residents is the way forward. Accessing a remote council dealing with 1.2 million residents is not the same as contacting local councillors who are close by, responsive and know the area.

“Therefore any changes made have to uphold values which are at the heart of our borough – efficient and effective services, local democratic accountability, accessibility of councillors and truly effective representation for local communities. 

“Crucially any changes in Surrey must be must be informed and shaped by the views and ideas of our residents and we want to hear from them over the coming weeks and months”.

We Stand Together

The council has enthusiastically backed a local community anti-racism initiative.

The initiative kicks off with an awareness day this Bank Holiday MondayImage: We stand together Bank Holiday Monday

The awareness day is set to be the start of the long term goals for the Epsom and Ewell – We Stand Together initiative. 

It is a positive social media and poster campaign for the community and local businesses to come together and highlight their stance in standing up against racism and pledging their support to be anti-racist - SEEING IT, STOPPING IT AND SOLVING IT.

The campaign was started by local business owner Dee Besant of Epsom and Ewell Families who says:

"By raising awareness of the issue that is racism, we know it can change things, because:

  • Awareness leads to conversations 
  • Conversations lead to thinking
  • Thinking leads to understanding
  • Understanding leads to change
  • Change leads to progress 

        The aim is to see the community acknowledging and sharing the #SeeItStopItSolveIt hashtag and the poster across social media and for local businesses to show their support by putting up the poster in their windows"!

        Councillors Hannah Dalton and Alex Coley proposed a motion to Epsom & Ewell Borough Council to support action promoting community cohesion, antiracism, equality and justice. They said:

        “We proudly support the We Stand Together campaign and call on all borough residents and businesses to be antiracist and to stand up against racism in all its forms.

        “Racism has no place in society or in our community. Our borough should be a place where everyone can thrive and enjoy all of the benefits and opportunities that Epsom and Ewell has to offer.

        “Our council recently gave its full support to We Stand Together and ongoing work to support community cohesion, anti- racism and calls for equality and justice. I strongly encourage others to join us and be a part of the We Stand Together launch this Bank Holiday.”

        Help spread awareness - #SeeItStopItSolveIt

        https://www.facebook.com/epsomandewellwestandtogether

        https://www.instagram.com/epsomandewellwestandtogether/

        https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/six-ways-racial-inequality-being

        https://ee-we-stand-together.org.uk/

        Funding available

        Community groups invited to bid for infrastructure funding

        Community and voluntary groups are being given a further opportunity to help shape the future of their local area by submitting bids for funding from Epsom & Ewell Borough Council’s Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

        Bidding originally opened in the spring and was suspended as the council prioritised the COVID response and council staff were moved to ensure vulnerable residents had the necessary support.

        The bidding reopened in August and proposals, including endorsement by a councillor, must be received before the end of September.

        Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of the Strategy & Resources Committee said “We are pleased to be able to make the latest round of funding available and we hope local community organisations will take advantage of this opportunity.

        “While the COVID situation remains, this is a further demonstration of the council supporting local initiatives for the benefit of the local community and economy. CIL funding must be used for infrastructure projects, so this particular funding cannot be used for other worthwhile causes.” 

        CIL is a levy payable by developers and is charged according to the size of developments. 15% of CIL is set aside for community bids and, for 2020/2021, there is £250,000 available to support a range of projects, both large and small.

        Bids must have the support of a borough councillor and it’s advisable for groups to discuss plans with their Ward councillors and the relevant council departments to help shape their bids before submission.

        The scheme has been running for two years and successful schemes include, funding for new children’s playground equipment, restoration of footpaths in Horton Country Park and additional street lights. Funding in 19/20 was also agreed for improving community clubs, including a boxing club and scout premises.

        The closing date for 2020/21 applications is 30 September.

        Bids will be evaluated by a panel of councillors in two stages, bids successfully passing the first stage will be asked for more detailed information before the successful schemes are selected. Winning bids will be announced in January.

        CIL Neighbourhood scheme guidance and application forms can be down loaded from the council website – here

        VJ Day anniversary

        Image: The mayor VJ Day EwellVictory over Japan Day (VJ Day) is the anniversary of Japan’s WW2 surrender, which came more than three months after Nazi Germany capitulated in Europe.

        While VE Day marks the end of the Second World War in Europe, VJ Day signals the end of the Second World War entirely.

        For this 75th anniversary on 15 August, wreaths were laid by the mayor of Epsom and Ewell, Councillor Humphrey Reynolds, at the Epsom War Memorial and at a short ceremony at the memorial St Mary’s Ewell.

        The Ewell service, which was held in line with government guidance on social distancing, included the marking of two minute’s silence at 11am. The service was organised by the Royal British Legion and included veterans and serving personnel.

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        Image: Steve McCormick

        Parks at night

        Some parks in the borough will be locked again at night to help prevent vandalism and antisocial behaviour.Image: Gibraltar Recreation Ground

        The vast majority of the borough’s parks and open spaces are accessible 24 hours a day, but a small number are fenced and gated which allow them to be locked between dusk and dawn.

        The parks we lock at night have previously seen antisocial behaviour. During the lockdown we temporarily suspended the evening closure. Your elected representatives have now requested that this is re-instated.

        The parks being locked between dusk and dawn are:

        • Auriol Park
        • Bourne Hall Park
        • Ewell Court Park
        • Gibraltar Recreation Ground
        • Long Grove Park
        • Nonsuch Park
        • Poole Road Recreation Ground (King George V Playing Fields)
        • Shadbolt Park

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        The play area in Gibraltar Recreation Ground

        Yuck!

        It was going so well. We had gone a full ten full weeks without any recycling being rejected. Then this week, 11.5 tonnes of recycling, contaminated with sanitary products, nappies and food, was rejected at the Materials Recycling Facility.

        Image: Recycling contaminationIn cases where a truck load of co-mingled recycling is heavily contaminated, the whole load, streets-worth of recycling, will have to be sent for incineration as the sorting machinery can’t cope. As well as being a waste of time and money, this is frustrating for the majority of households who have separated their recycling.

        Where there are lower levels of contamination, the Materials Recycling Facility may accept the material, but their staff will have to sort it by hand – not a pleasant job.

        To protect the recycling efforts of the local community, our staff will reject bins that are obviously contaminated.

        Please only put recycling in your mixed recycling bin. Not doing so risks your whole community’s recycling efforts.

        No to NOS

        Small, silver nitrous oxide canisters are a regular sight across the borough, littering playing fields, parks and almost anywhere young people gather.Image of Nos canisters

        Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, hippy crack and NOS, is the second most commonly used recreational drug in England after cannabis.

        It can bring on feelings of euphoria, relaxation and calmness and also fits of giggles - but there are a number of dangerous side-effects including, in extreme cases, death.

        The drug can be used legitimately. In the catering industry it is used to keep whipped cream pressurised for example, but it has recently become a popular illicit drug, usually inhaled through a balloon.

        Nitrous oxide interferes with the oxygen supply to the brain; the gas can cause severe headaches, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, difficulty breathing, unconsciousness, and has been linked to 25 deaths since 2010. The Royal College of Nursing last year warned that many who take it have no idea of the risks it carries, which can also include vitamin B-12 deficiency, jaundice, mouth ulcers, dizziness and permanent nerve damage.

        There is a fear that the gas is replacing the previously ‘traditional’ gateway to drugs use of cannabis or solvents. Besides the immediate health risks to users, people driving under the influence of nitrous oxide is also an area of increasing concern.

        We've been reminding local retailers that under the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act, nitrous oxide is illegal to sell or supply for recreational use. As well as fines, those supplying the gas knowing it is being used for recreational purposes can face prison sentences of up to seven years.

        We've been using our social media channels to highlighting the Talk to FRANK national drugs helpline.FRANK is a website and national telephone helpline offering advice, information and support to anyone concerned about drugs and solvent/volatile substance:
        https://www.talktofrank.com/drug/nitrous-oxide

        It's that time of year

        Every year, local Councils are required by law to make an annual canvass of all households in their borough to check if there have been any changes to who is eligible to be registered.

        The way the canvass is held has changed and The Representation of the People (Annual Canvass)(Amendment) Regulations 2019 now gives different options for contacting residents including by email and telephone instead of just sending out canvass forms by post.  

        Image: The annual canvass is underwayHow does the new canvass work?

        Step 1:  Data matching

        The Electoral Register is sent securely to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to check names and addresses from the register against National Insurance details and have each property allocated to one of 3 routes of communication.

        • If all the registered people at a property that match with DWP records, the property will go to Route 1 canvass.
        • If there are any people at a property that don't match, the property will go to Route 2 canvass.
        • Properties that have a duty manager - eg community or nursing homes - will go to Route 3 canvass.

        Step 2: Routes of communication

        Route 1 – this means that your property has been fully matched and we will send you confirmation of who is registered.

        • By email if we have an email address for you or others in your household. If you receive an email you must respond to confirm the details are correct. If more than one person in your household receives the email only one needs to reply and information will be included in the email about how to do this.
        • If we don't have an email address for you, or we don't receive a response from our email, we will send a letter to your property instead. If the elector details on the form are correct, you don't need to do anything, or;
        • If the information is not correct, you can add, correct or remove someone from your property, the letter will contain a website address and security codes which you can use to log in and make the changes.

        Route 2 – This means that for whatever reason the DWP has allocated your property as being unmatched. We need to check with you that we have everyone at your property that is eligible, registered properly.

        • We will post a form to the property. The form will have elector details printed on it if there are registered electors at your property or if no-one is currently registered then it will be a blank form
        • We need a response to this form even if there are no changes to report and information will be provided about how you can do this either on-line, phone or by post.
        • If we do not receive a response, we will make other attempts to get a response from you. This may be via reminder forms, calling you or a visit to your property so please respond as soon as you receive the information from us.

        Route 3 – These properties are Care Homes, student dwellings and Houses of Multiple Occupation. We will be contacting each on an individual basis depending on the type.

        • We will supply information regarding the registered electors either by post, email or by phone.
        • A response will be required to confirm that we have the correct people registered or if there is no-one eligible to register.

        Will returning the form register me to vote?

        No, adding your name to your canvass response will not register you to vote. Voter registration is a separate process and once you have told us you need to register we will send information to each unregistered person at your property giving information on how to do this. You do not need to wait for this information, you can register via the national voter registration website www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

        You can help us save money and resources by responding to the canvass forms and or by registering online as soon as possible.

        There is information regarding electoral matters on our website https://www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk/council/elections-and-voting

         

        Fly tipping horror

        It's a subject we have highlighted before in eborough Insight; if you employ someone to dispose of your rubbish and they then fly tip it, it could be you ending up with a fine.Image: fly tipping Surrey Environment Partnership

        Last week the subject was featured in the BBC show Fake Britain. A lady had seen an advert on social media and had paid of household rubbish to be removed. A month later the lady received notification from her council as the rubbish had been dumped a few streets away (literally in the street) and she was threatened with a huge bill.

        If you’re having work done on your home and someone else is taking your waste away, all you need to do is:

        1. check online if your trader is registered before you employ them

        2. obtain a receipt for any waste taken away by a trader.

        You should be particularly vigilant if a door-to-door trader offers to take your waste away.

        The council offers a bulk waste collection service for all residents at a very reasonable cost.

        Fly-tipping is a blight on the environment and expensive for the taxpayer who ultimately pays for it to be cleared up. That’s why in Surrey 100% of fly-tippers who go to court are convicted. Punishment can result in a fine of up to £50,000 or 12 months in prison.

        You can find out all you need to know about fly-tipping in Surrey, including how to report it where you live, on the Surrey Environment Partnership website.

        Poetry please

        In the last few issues of eBorough Insight, we've included poems from the community with their take on the COVID-19 situation. This is the latest we've received - more please! 

        The Ballad of the Covid Mask

        My wife said to me Image: shopping with a mask
        I have you a task
        Can you get me some shopping?
        But you must wear a mask.

        And to keep yourself safe
        At all times keep it on
        If you take it off
        It would be terribly wrong

        She said she had written
        It all down on a list
        And she said to make sure
        That nothing is missed

        So, I put on my mask
        It made me feel rather lonely
        But it is only a short way
        To the shops down at Stoneleigh

        But my glasses steamed up
        Cause what had occurred
        The mask made me too hot
        So, my vision was blurred

        When I got to the Broadway
        I looked at her note
        But through the mist on my specs
        I couldn’t tell what exactly she’d wrote

        And I recalled her words
        She’d stated so clear and so strong
        Don’t take off your mask
        That would be terribly wrong

        I wasn’t quite sure
        If I had got everything right
        Did I get some things wrong ?
        I admit that I might

        So, when I got home
        We unpacked the shopping
        And by the time we got through
        My wife she was hopping

        And though I said
        I couldn’t quite see
        She said your excuses
        Cut no ice with me

        You bought some tomatoes
        When I asked for potatoes
        And a length of brown rope
        When it should have been soap
        And 12 cans of Dutch ale
        That should have been kale
        And a bottle of brandy
        That should have been candy
        And some ointment for bunions
        Instead of red onions
        And a string of clothes pegs
        That should have been eggs
        And six tins of baked beans
        That should have been greens
        And some real runny cheese
        That should have been peas
        And two bedside lamps
        That should have been stamps
        And a bucket and spade
        And not lemonade
        And an x-box type game
        Not that sort of game!

        And explain to your betters
        Why you bought the French letters
        I asked for electrical flex
        And not some Durex

        And a whole leg of lamb
        That should have been jam
        And a brand-new big telly
        When I wrote tagliatelle!
        And the box of Rice Crispies
        Has become a selection of whiskies
        And the food for the cat
        Is now a new hat

        And why did you buy
        A brand-new garden shed
        When all that I wanted
        Was a loaf of brown bread

        And so, it went on
        My trip was a flop
        But the upside is next time
        She’ll go to the shop!

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